Take a moment to think about how you got here...all of the variables that organized themselves in a way that allowed you to arrive to this moment. "Gratitude naturally arises when we think about how we've been guided to this moment" (John Friend). When I'm taking class, even the fact that my body is healthy enough that I can physically be there practicing yoga brings up gratitude inside. When the light of that natural reverence fills up the inner body and fills up your heart, it wants to pour out and give back. It starts streaming out in all directions to all people and things. It can't be stopped! It becomes celebratory gratitude.
This month in class, I will be offering the exploration of two aspects of gratitude: 1) Reverential and 2) Celebratory. The reverential variety is the thankful kind, the kind where you place your hands to your heart and bow your head or maybe you bow with your whole body in child's pose or downward dog or a forward bend. Maybe you simply say to yourself or to someone else "thank you". Even a shitty interaction or circumstance can ultimately yield positive results and maybe you're grateful for that occurrence (even though you weren't when it initially happened). At the end of class, when I bow to my teacher for guiding me on the path to my own awakening (even though that path can be really challenging and crappy at times), I am offering reverential gratitude. The celebratory kind is when your arms fly up and out, your heart lifts to the sky and light streams out of you in every direction; it's when you're full inside and you want to share that light with the world. After class, when I step outside, the celebratory variety kicks in and I find myself engaging with those around me with a loving heart (even if I felt crappy or introverted before class) or I just feel "better" and a simple smile is the beaming light. Both of these are gratitude and both can be embodied. According to my teacher, "Yoga poses are offerings of the heart". Each pose, you say with your body that you remember and revere your own light (and the light of others) and you celebrate that light with your body by sending it out, by opening up and extending yourself. You can even say both at the same time. This month, we'll work up to a full backbend (Urdhva Dhanurasana) to offer gratitude for our ability to practice, our ability to feel, our ability to remember, our ability to clear away that which prevents us from seeing the beauty and for all of the other amazing gifts in our lives.